CLOSE CALL: Trisha Dunford overlooks the scorched ground left in the wake of the fire which tore through forest at North Deep Creek on Monday evening.
CLOSE CALL: Trisha Dunford overlooks the scorched ground left in the wake of the fire which tore through forest at North Deep Creek on Monday evening. Scott Kovacevic

GYMPIE FIRE: 'F--- it's closer than I thought'

ONE call from her brother was all it took to convince Trisha Dunford that she needed to be ready to haul out at a moment's notice on Monday night.

The North Deep Creek resident has described the "scary" events of the evening, when a blaze ripped through more than 100ha of forest within 2km of her and her brother's properties.

"My brother rang me and said the fire brigade said grab your stuff and wait for me to give you another phone call," Ms Dunford said.

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She drove her car to the back door, and began gathering the essential pieces of her life.

"I grabbed what I could and packed it all near the back door and had my suitcase open on my bed to throw the clothes in," she said.

 

WATCH AND WAIT: Firefighters monitor fire which burned through North Deep Creek on Monday.
WATCH AND WAIT: Firefighters monitor fire which burned through North Deep Creek on Monday. Arthur Gorrie

Then it was a waiting game to find out if she had to "grab the dog and (get) out of there" - as her seriously ill brother Tony Dunford was also doing not 1km away on Gardner Rd.

"They were ready to do the bolt," she said.

Residents were told to prepare to leave by firefighters about 3.30pm Monday when the fire started. The warning level remained in place until 6.45pm, when it was downgraded to "monitor and review". There it remained until 9am yesterday, when it was changed to the most basic level before finally being closed as an incident at 3pm.

 

Firefighters on the scene of the North Deep Creek fire at sunset.
Firefighters on the scene of the North Deep Creek fire at sunset. Arthur Gorrie

Despite its proximity, she said she was unaware of how bad the threat was when it sparked.

"I could see a little bit of of smoke through the trees and I thought 'Don't tell me some idiot is burning off'," Ms Dunford said.

From there it became the most tense waiting game imaginable.

"I sat on my deck and kept watching the smoke and the choppers.

"Not knowing was the hardest thing for me, especially in his (her brother's) condition.

"I thought if this forest goes up they'll never get in there to contain it."

She really only grasped how close catastrophe had been yesterday morning, when she drove to Mr Dunford's house to check on him.

 

A water bombing helicopter fights fire at North Deep Creek.
A water bombing helicopter fights fire at North Deep Creek. Arthur Gorrie

There, from the top of his driveway, the scorched and still smouldering destruction of the fire was clear in the light of day.

It was a sobering discovery.

"I thought 'f--k it's closer than I thought'," she said.

A resident of the suburban Sunshine Coast before moving to North Deep Creek four years ago, she said Monday night's events were the closest she'd ever been to a blaze.

But it was not the first time her family had been hit.

"My daughter's been in a house fire and lost everything. It's scary."

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